The Seeds of Civilization
Smithsonian, Issue 05, May 2005
[Full Text]

Search for the Indo-Europeans
Science27 February 2004; 303: 1323
[Summary] [Full Text]

Why Anatolia?
Science 27 February 2004; 303: 1324
[DOI: 10.1126/science.303.5662.1324] (in News)
[Summary] [Full Text]

Archaeology: Did Plaster Hold Neolithic Society Together?
Science 14 December 2001; 294: 2278-2281
[DOI: 10.1126/science.294.5550.2278] (in News Focus)
[Summary] [Full Text]
Recent studies around a 9500-year-old settlement suggest it was built in the middle of marshland. How then did its inhabitants grow their food?

Archaeology: A Long Season Puts Çatalhöyük in Context
Science 29 October 1999; 286: 890-891
[DOI: 10.1126/science.286.5441.890] (in News Focus)
[Summary] [Full Text]

The First Cities: Why Settle Down? The Mystery of Communities
Science 20 November 1998; 282: 1442
[DOI: 10.1126/science.282.5393.1442] (in News)
[Summary] [Full Text]

The First Cities: Digging Into the Life of the Mind
Science 20 November 1998; 282: 1444
[DOI: 10.1126/science.282.5393.1444] (in News)
[Summary] [Full Text]

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The American Museum of Natural History needs to finish its sexual harassment investigation already
The Verge
[Full Text]
About 17 months have now passed since a research assistant at the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) in New York City first accused her boss of sexually assaulting her. The accused perpetrator is Brian Richmond, the AMNH’s curator of human origins, who had occupied that post for only a matter of weeks before he allegedly assaulted her in a hotel room in Florence, Italy after a human evolution meeting in that city. Yet after three investigations into the charges — the third is reportedly just now wrapping up — the AMNH has yet to make its final decision about Richmond’s fate. Will he stay or go? It’s long past time for the museum to make up its mind — and bring the latest publicly funded investigation to a close.

The sexual misconduct case that has rocked anthropology
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaf4016
[Full Text]
On a cold evening last March, as researchers descended upon St. Louis, Missouri, for the annual meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (AAPA), a dramatic scene unfolded at the rooftop bar of the St. Louis Hilton at the Ballpark, the conference hotel. From here, attendees had spectacular views of the city, including Busch Stadium and the Gateway Arch, but many were riveted by an animated discussion at one table.

Big Archaeology fights Big Oil to preserve ancient landscape

Vol. 349 no. 6250 pp. 774-775 
DOI: 10.1126/science.349.6250.774
[Summary] [Full Text]
Between about 850 C.E. and 1250 C.E., Chaco Canyon in northwestern New Mexico's San Juan Basin was at the center of a vast and sophisticated Pueblo culture. Today, the park is at the center of an oil and gas boom that archaeologists, environmentalists, and Native American activists say threatens a broader landscape filled with hundreds of Chacoan sites. Earlier this month, Chaco experts presented a plan to slow down the granting of drilling leases close to the park. They are also preparing a white paper arguing that the widest possible region around Chaco Canyon should be protected from drilling. Meanwhile, environmental and Native American groups have gone to court to block 239 pending drilling permits in the Chaco area.

The killing ground
Vol. 344 no. 6188 pp. 1080-1083 
DOI: 10.1126/science.344.6188.1080
[Summary] [Full Text]
Nearly 20 years have passed since archaeologists discovered the oldest known complete hunting weapons at Schöningen, Germany. These wooden spears rocked the archaeological world because they were so sophisticated and so ancient. A new team is now working at Schöningen, trying to figure out who made the spears and why they left such valuable implements behind along with the skeletons of dozens of horses—many more than they could have eaten at any one sitting.

Monumental Roots
Science 3 January 2014
Vol. 343 no. 6166 pp. 18-23 
DOI: 10.1126/science.343.6166.18
[Summary] [Full Text]
Archaeologists are gaining a new perspective on why ancient Britons erected great henge and circle monuments like Stonehenge. Recent studies emphasize how the work of building monuments brought geographically dispersed communities together. Surprisingly, the stone circles were part of a package of innovation that began in Scotland's far northern Orkney Islands and later spread south to transform the British landscape.

Ancient DNA Links Native Americans With Europe
Vol. 342 no. 6157 pp. 409-410 
DOI: 10.1126/science.342.6157.409
[Summary] [Full Text]
The genome of a Siberian boy who died 24,000 years ago offers clues to the identity of the people who first settled the Americas. The complete nuclear genome, the oldest sequenced to date from a modern human, shows close ties to those of today's Native Americans. But the boy apparently descended from people who had lived in Europe or western Asia. The finding suggests that about a third of the ancestry of today's Native Americans can be traced to "western Eurasia," with the other two-thirds coming from eastern Asia.

'Killjoys' Challenge Claims of Clever Animals
Vol. 335 no. 6072 pp. 1036-1037 
DOI: 10.1126/science.335.6072.1036
[Summary] [Full Text]
It seems that hardly a week goes by without a new report about animals performing marvelous feats we once thought only humans could do: Crows make tools, chimpanzees seem to mourn their dead, and rats supposedly empathize with one another's pain. For many researchers, the new evidence represents a welcome shift from behaviorist paradigms often associated with psychologist B. F. Skinner, which denied nonhuman species anything approaching advanced cognition. Yet recently, some researchers have been pushing back against attributing humanlike qualities to other animals without considering cognitively simpler explanations. This more skeptical contingent was present in force at two recent meetings* sponsored by the Royal Society. At both, researchers explored what animals are really doing when they engage in seemingly complex behaviors, rather than reported still more discoveries of their impressive abilities. Some researchers blamed the news media, and even some scientists, for exaggerated interpretations of animal behavior.

The Peopling of the Aleutians
Science 13 January 2012
Vol. 335 no. 6065 pp. 158-161 
DOI: 10.1126/science.335.6065.158
[Summary] [Full Text]
The ancient Aleuts began exploring the 2000-kilometer Aleutian archipelago—the world's longest—at least 9000 years ago and had the islands to themselves for thousands of years, making the archipelago is a living laboratory for studying human migratory behavior. Many of today's Aleuts can trace their ancestry back to the islands' first inhabitants. The Aleuts' story also opens a window into the peopling of the Americas as a whole. The Aleuts descend from ancestors who lived in Asia at least 13,000 years ago, making them part of the great migrations across the now-submerged Bering Strait land bridge into North America. To some, the Aleuts' maritime adaptations strengthen the idea that the first Americans were sea travelers. Others counter that the Aleutians were settled too late to have a bearing on the land-versus-sea debate. Either way, the story of the Aleutians reveals how maritime migrations work.

Dating Duo Illuminates Modern Humans' Journey
Science 6 May 2011
Vol. 332 no. 6030 pp. 658-661 
[Summary] [Full Text]
Until very recently, most researchers studying the origins of Homo sapiens focused on the fossils of East Africa and the sophisticated tools and ornaments of famed South African sites such as Blombos Cave. Few scientists thought that much of evolutionary significance had gone on in North Africa, or that the region's big-toothed, somewhat archaic-looking hominins might be closely related to the ancestors of many living people. Now, thanks to new excavations and more accurate dating, North Africa boasts unequivocal signs of modern human behavior as early as anywhere else in the world, including South Africa.

Was North Africa the Launch Pad for Modern Human Migrations?
Science 7 January 2011
Vol. 331 no. 6013 pp. 20-23 
[Summary] [Full Text]
Until very recently, most researchers studying the origins of Homo sapiens focused on the fossils of East Africa and the sophisticated tools and ornaments of famed South African sites such as Blombos Cave. Few scientists thought that much of evolutionary significance had gone on in North Africa, or that the region's big-toothed, somewhat archaic-looking hominins might be closely related to the ancestors of many living people. Now, thanks to new excavations and more accurate dating, North Africa boasts unequivocal signs of modern human behavior as early as anywhere else in the world, including South Africa.

Anthropologist Brings Worlds Together
Science 13 August 2010
Vol. 329 no. 5993 pp. 743-745 
[Summary] [Full Text]
Polly Wiessner, 62, sees no conflict in her dual role as both observer and participant in traditional societies. For nearly 4 decades, she has been carrying out anthropological fieldwork that links science with advocacy and ties the present to the past. Her research on exchange networks in Africa's Kalahari Desert and in Papua New Guinea has provided anthropologists with some of their best models for the cultural evolution of prehistoric societies. Along the way, Wiessner has helped the traditional peoples she works with navigate the modern world. She is regarded as a leading practitioner of "engaged anthropology," in which researchers collaborate with the people they study.

In Archaeobotanist's Hands, Tiny Fossils Yield Big Answers
Science 2 July 2010
Vol. 329 no. 5987 pp. 28-29 DOI:10.1126/science.329.5987.28
[Summary] [Full Text]
Archaeobotanist Dolores Piperno has used microscopic fossils of plants to trace the origins of agriculture in the Americas, for example last year reporting the earliest known maize (corn) from a valley in southern Mexico. For many researchers, her work on maize reconciled the genetic and archaeological evidence and ended a long debate about whether maize had been domesticated in the highlands or the lowlands. A key element behind Piperno's success, her admirers say, has been a determination to plant herself firmly on the scientific side of archaeology, a field that represents an often uneasy marriage between science and the humanities.

Evolution of Language:
Animal Communication Helps Reveal Roots of Language

Science 21 May 2010:
Vol. 328. no. 5981, pp. 969 - 971
DOI: 10.1126/science.328.5981.969
[Summary] [Full Text]
Language leaves no traces in the archaeological record, and many researchers have been doubtful about how much animal communication could reveal about the unique features of human communication. That began to change in the 1990s, when linguists, evolutionary biologists, psychologists, primatologists, and other scientists teamed up to test new hypotheses about how language arose.

Evolution of Behavior:
Did Working Memory Spark Creative Culture?

Science 9 April 2010
Vol. 328. no. 5975, pp. 160 - 163
DOI: 10.1126/science.328.5975.160
[Summary] [Full Text]
According to a pair of researchers, a stepwise increase in working memory capacity was central to the evolution of advanced human cognition. They argue that the final steps, consisting of one or more genetic mutations that led to "enhanced working memory," happened sometime after our species appeared nearly 200,000 years ago, and perhaps as recently as 40,000 years ago.

The Tangled Roots of Agriculture
Science 22 January 2010
Vol. 327. no. 5964, pp. 404 - 406
DOI: 10.1126/science.327.5964.404
[Summary] [Full Text]
About 13,000 years ago, a sharp, 1300-year-long cold and dry spell called the Younger Dryas reversed the warming that had followed the last ice age. According to a once-popular hypothesis, the Younger Dryas created an environmental crisis that forced the Natufians, hunter-gatherers who roamed the largely treeless steppes of the eastern Mediterranean region, to begin domesticating plants and animals to ensure that they had enough to eat, thus spurring the world's first experiments with agriculture.

Better Homes and Hearths, Neandertal-Style
Science 20 November 2009
Vol. 326. no. 5956, pp. 1056 - 1057
DOI: 10.1126/science.326.5956.1056
[Summary] [Full Text]
Last month, Neandertal specialists gathered at a meeting marking the 100th anniversary of the discovery of Abric Romaní, a site where excavations have uncovered 14 layers of Neandertal occupation over 20,000 years and rapid sediment accumulation has led to "near-Pompeii-like" preservation of hearths, stone tools, and other artifacts.

Bringing Hominins Back to Life
Science 10 July 2009
Vol. 325: 136-139
DOI: 10.1126/science.323.5915.709
[Summary] [Full Text]

ORIGINS: On the Origin of Art and Symbolism
Science 6 February 2009:
Vol. 323. no. 5915, pp. 709 - 711
DOI: 10.1126/science.323.5915.709
[Summary] [Full Text]

ARCHAEOLOGY: Going Deeper Into the Grotte Chauvet
Science 15 August 2008
Vol. 321. no. 5891, pp. 904 - 905
DOI: 10.1126/science.321.5891.904
[Summary] [Full Text]

Picking Up Evolution's Beat

Science 25 April 2008
Vol. 320. no. 5875, pp. 442 - 443
DOI: 10.1126/science.320.5875.442
[Summary] [Full Text]
Pardis Sabeti mixes geek cool with hot science as she studies how human populations have evolved to resist malaria and Lassa fever.

Seeking Agriculture's Ancient Roots
Science 29 June 2007: 1830 - 1835
DOI: 10.1126/science.316.5833.1830
[Summary] [Full Text]

Brain Evolution Studies Go Micro
Science 2 March 2007: 1208 - 1211
DOI: 10.1126/science.315.5816.1208
[Summary] [Full Text]
What makes the human brain unique? Researchers are coming up with new answers to that question as they shift their focus from large-scale brain structures to individual neurons and their complex wiring.

Study of Music and the Mind Hits a High Note in Montreal

Science 9 February 2007
Vol. 315. no. 5813, pp. 758 - 759
DOI: 10.1126/science.315.5813.758
[Summary] [Full Text]
MONTREAL, CANADA--After battling to have their field taken seriously, two musician-scientists have founded an interdisciplinary center to understand how--and perhaps why--humans make music.

Radiocarbon Dating's Final Frontier
Science 15 September 2006: 1560-1563
DOI: 10.1126/science.313.5793.1560
[Summary] [Full Text]

Evolutionary Genetics: Are Humans Still Evolving?
Science 8 July 2005; 309: 234-237
[DOI: 10.1126/science.309.5732.234]
[Summary] [Full Text]

Seeking the Key to Music
Science12 November 2004: 1120-1122
DOI: 10.1126/science.306.5699.1120
[Summary] [Full Text]

Brian Fagan Profile:
Archaeologist Leaves an Imprint on His Field—Without Research

Science10 September 2004; 305: 1555
[DOI: 10.1126/science.305.5690.1555] (in News Focus)
[Summary] [Full Text]

Becoming Human: Why Get Smart?
Science 15 February 2002; 295: 1225
[DOI: 10.1126/science.295.5558.1225] (in News Focus)
[Summary] [Full Text]

Becoming Human: What Made Humans Modern?
Science 15 February 2002; 295: 1225
[DOI: 10.1126/science.295.5558.1225] (in News Focus)
[Summary] [Full Text]
Could our species have been born in a rapid burst of change? Researchers from different disciplines are trying to find out.

Paleontology: The Case of the 'Forged' Letter
Science 13 April 2001; 292: 200
[DOI: 10.1126/science.292.5515.200] (in News Focus)
[Summary] [Full Text]

Paleontology: Paleontological Rift in the Rift Valley
Science 13 April 2001; 292: 198-201
[DOI: 10.1126/science.292.5515.198] (in News Focus)
[Summary] [Full Text]

Paleoanthropology: What--or Who--Did In the Neandertals?
Science 14 September 2001; 293: 1980-1981.
[Summary] [Full Text]

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Meet the Bird Brainiacs: Eurasian Jay
Superstar scientist Nicky Clayton uses worms and chocolate teddy bears to help figure out where bird and human intelligence intersect.

Audubon March–April 2015
[Full Text]
Editor's Note: Members of the crow family, known as the corvids, are among the smartest birds in the world. Some are capable of using tools, playing tricks, teaching each other new things, even holding “funerals.” And yet there’s still much we don’t know about these fascinating, sometimes confounding creatures. What’s going on inside the mind of a corvid? Three leading scientists are finding answers.

Brontosaurus and Me
The Last Word On Nothing 10 April 2015
[Full Text]
The biggest science story this week was really, really big. Brontosaurus, weighing in at about 16 metric tons, is a taxonomic contender once again, thanks to a 300 page long cladistic analysis in the online journal PeerJ). (Spoiler alert: Yes, the rest of this piece will include puns, jokes and allusions to classic films just as corny as these.)

Talking Back to Madness
Science 14 March 2014
Vol. 343 no. 6176 pp. 1190-1193 
DOI: 10.1126/science.343.6176.1190
[Summary] [Full Text]
Schizophrenia is a devastating mental disorder that afflicts about 1% of the world's population at one time or another, and is often characterized by hallucinations, delusions, and severe emotional and cognitive problems.

The Baby Deficit
Science 30 June 2006
DOI: 10.1126/science.312.5782.1894]
[Summary] [Full Text]
As fertility rates decline across the developed world, governments are offering big incentives for childbearing. Experts don't expect them to have much effect.

Intelligent design and evolution, let's have a debate
Los Angeles Times 2 October 2005
Let 'intelligent design' and science rumble.
[Full Text]

Searching For The Secrets Of Cassoulet
Saveur January/February 1998
When I said good-bye to America many years ago and ran off with me new wife to live and write in Paris, I had never tasted cassoulet-the savory ragout of meats and white beans that is probably the emblematic dish of southwestern France's Languedoc region.
Photography by Jean-Luc Barde.

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On Calypso's Island
Islands November/December 1997
Michael Balter succumbs to the charms of Gozo.
Photography by Flip Chalfant.

[Download pdf]

A Park Bench in Paris
Bon Appétit August 1995
The Luxembourg Gardens are an oasis of quiet on the Left Bank. On Sunday, they're filled with people seeing the sights, relaxing with friends and enjoying some delicious bistro food.
[Download pdf]

Peace, Love, and Fort Ord
Buzz August 1993
People say a lot of things about soon-to-be-shuttered Fort Ord, once the embarkation point for thousands of Vietnam-bound grunts. A great place to build an antiwar movement is not usually one of them.
[Download pdf]

Child Drawings, Writings Survive Czechoslovak Concentration Camp
LA Times April 1994
It is a custom for visitors wandering the thicket of tombstones in Prague's Old Jewish Cemetery to place small rocks on top of the markers, a practice said to date from when the Jews lived in the desert and there were no flowers to be had.
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Bratislava: Free at Last in New Slovakia
Buzz November/December 1992
My friend Maria can't understand why I always stay at the Hotel Carlton when I visit Bratislava. Maria, who works in one of the city's tourist offices, usually refers Western visitors to modern establishments like the Forum or the Kijev. It's true that the Carlton has seen better days, but that's why I like it. Its peeling wallpaper and disreputable clientele give me an idea of what the Bristol or the Imperial in Vienna would be like if they had been left untouched for the past hundred years.
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Illustration by John Swogger, 2004.